La Liga 17/18 Gameweek 23: Barcelona vs Getafe– Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Unbeaten Barcelona look to extend their record-breaking run against a Getafe side who have proved difficult to break down.
15:15 GMT, Sunday 11th February, Camp Nou (Barcelona, Spain) Sky Sports Mix
Having seen off the challenge of Valencia in the Copa del Rey semi-final last week, Barcelona now have their sights firmly set on the treble. The Catalan giants have a nine point lead at the top of La Liga and are still yet to taste defeat in that competition. They are not yet perfect, however, and a draw against Espanyol in their last league game ended a run of seven consecutive wins.
Barcelona have three La Liga fixtures before they face second-place Atletico Madrid at the beginning of next month. If Ernesto Valverde’s side can secure maximum points from those matches, then they will have effectively sealed the title two months in advance, allowing them to focus on the Champions League.
Getafe continue to defy expectations and look comfortable as mid-table La Liga side. Having been promoted via the play-offs last season, their only ambition this year will have been survival in the top flight. As it stands, the club from South Madrid are 12 points clear of relegation and showing no signs of decline.
Getafe are unbeaten in their last four games, including an impressive 1-1 away draw against Sevilla. They are only four points adrift of the top six, and with seventh position likely to be enough for a Europa League place, Getafe will certainly not have given up on what would be a spectacular achievement.
Last Time Out
Valencia 0-2 (0-3) Barcelona (Copa del Rey Semi Final Second Leg)
With only a narrow 1-0 lead heading into the second leg, Valverde’s side had to produce another focused performance to see themselves past a dangerous Valencia side.
Los Che sat back throughout and managed to mount a number of threatening counter-attacking moves.
The deadlock was broken by substitute Philippe Coutinho in the 49th minute, who finished tidily following some brilliant forward play from Luis Suarez.
Valencia had their chances, but the tie was sealed by Ivan Rakitic with eight minutes left to play after another intelligent Suarez assist.
Getafe 0-0 Leganes (La Liga)
The home side were typically resolute in defence, restricting their opponents to only two shots in the entirety of the match, with only of those on target. Getafe were unlucky not to come away with more, but struggled to create chances of their own.
Once again, Getafe were let down by their finishing, with Angel Rodriguez and Jorge Molina particularly wasteful.
Ultimately, the game was there to be won for Getafe and they will again be frustrated to miss out on all three points.
Ernesto Valverde will once again have to do without the services of Ousmane Dembele (hamstring).
There are some defensive concerns as Samuel Umtiti faces a suspension and Thomas Vermaelen (hamstring) is not yet fit to start. Gerard Pique missed training on Friday and is also an injury doubt. January signing Yerry Mina could step in to make his debut at centre back.
There are still some doubts over the fitness of midfielder Andre Gomes (hamstring) and he is unlikely to feature this weekend.
Jose Bordalas has an almost full strength squad to pick from this weekend.
Midfielder Markel Bergara (foot) is the only expected absentee.
Key Battle: Luis Suarez (Barcelona) vs Angel Rodriguez (Getafe)
It is difficult for anyone to stand out in a team of superstars, but on Thursday night Luis Suarez was a cut above the rest. The 31-year-old provided two moments of genius to unlock a resolute Valencia defence and see his side through to the Copa del Rey final. After a slow start to the season, the Uruguayan international has recovered to score 16 goals in 19 La Liga games and is the second highest scorer in the division.
More recently, the forward has begun to play the role of provider and looking more comfortable in Valverde’s favoured 4-4-2 formation. Suarez tends to save his best form until the business end of the season and this year seems to be no exception.
Angel Rodriguez has made an impressive start to his life at Getafe, having joined in the summer after years in the second tier. The 30-year-old has scored eight goals this season, making him his club’s top-scorer.
The striker is also capable of dropping into a deeper role when his side are under pressure and has the ability to pick out dangerous forward balls. Against Barcelona, Rodriguez should play an integral role on Sunday as he will most likely have to drop into the defensive unit while his team do not have the ball.
Can Getafe hold out?
Getafe’s impressive league position this season has been maintained on the back of a brilliantly organised defensive unit. Only three sides in La Liga have conceded fewer goals than Jose Bordalas’ side and their miserly defensive record has allowed them to pick up valuable draws in games where they have been largely second best.
By holding firm against more skilled opposition, Getafe have been able to beat bigger sides in the division. They have beaten Valencia 1-0 and Villarreal 4-0 this season and Barcelona will be wary of the threat being posed. Valencia were unable to hold out against Barcelona this week, despite sitting back for the entirety of the game. The Catalans usually find a way to unlock even the bravest of defences and Getafe will have to be at their best if they are to come away with anything this weekend.
Liverpool supporters watch and weep
In the 49th minute of Thursday’s class between Valencia and Barcelona, Liverpool fans were left dreaming of what could have been. Some brilliant wide forward play from Luis Suarez set up Philippe Coutinho to finish from a tight angle. Coutinho was not the player he is now when he last played alongside the Uruguayan, but the understanding between the two players was clear.
The arrival of Coutinho, who is able to play a deeper attacking role, may free up Suarez and allow him to focus on goal-scoring. His mid season arrival has rejuvenated a Barcelona setup who were in danger of slipping into complacency having established an almost unassailable lead at the top of La Liga. There are not many players who could improve this Barcelona side, but Coutinho certainly appears to be one of them.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-0 Getafe
Getafe defend well as a unit and will perhaps be able to withstand Barcelona for large durations of the match. After another high intensity game on Thursday night, the Catalan giants may be slightly jaded and lacking their usual attacking zeal. Barcelona simply have to much quality for Getafe to handle, however, and should come away with a comfortable victory.
Will Barcelona continue their unbeaten run?
Let us know in the comments section below…